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September 23, 2017

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Opposition pushes for local government funding

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday demanded the fund allocation law be quickly revised to increase funding for local governments.

The issue should be on the agenda of the Legislature's upcoming extraordinary session, the main opposition party said.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said at a press conference that a mechanism must be built up to regularize consultations between the central and local governments concerning the distribution of funds.

The national-level government must not be allowed to continue to have the sole control of all powers and money, Su said.

The law that the DPP is seeking to revise governs the distribution to local governments of taxes collected by the central government. It stipulates the portion of tax money to be allocated to local governments and how this sum is divided by them.

The DPP demands that the portion of tax money to be given to local governments must not be less than 10 percent, which will be a guarantee of increased funding for all.

In the bill it is looking to submit during the summer break's extraordinary session, the DPP stresses that the money should not be distributed only according to the size of a local government area's population.

The law must also factor in the number of elderly people, the land area of cities and counties, residents' incomes, business revenues, agricultural and fishery production values, and infrastructure needs.

The press conference was also attended by DPP local government leaders from Tainan, Chiayi County, Yunlin County, Pingtung County, Kaohsiung and Yilan County.

Su said each of these DPP government officials represents hundreds of thousands of people from their cities and counties, and President Ma Ying-jeou and the ruling Kuomintang should listen to them carefully.

Everyone is born equal and they should not be discriminated against because of where they are born, Su said, stressing that the current fund allocation law is unfair.

He noted that when the central government revised the local autonomy law three years ago to allow the nation to add five special municipalities by upgrading or merging existing cities ad counties, it promised to revise the funding law in two months.

Three years on, nothing has changed, Su stressed, accusing the central government of failing its duty.

Yilan Deputy Magistrate Wu Tse-cheng said Taipei's wealth and happiness have been built on the hardships of remote, poor and rural areas.

Lee Yung-teh, deputy mayor of Kaohsiung, said the merger of his city with its neighboring county to form the present special municipality was a "scam" and "punishment."

Kaohsiung thought it would receive better funding after the upgrade, Lee said. But it has turned out that spending has increased, while funding from the central government has decreased, he added.

In response the DPP's demand, a KMT leader, Lin Hung-chih, said there may not be sufficient time to handle the issue at the extraordinary session.

He said the upcoming session may only handle simpler issues than the funding law, which is much more complicated and thus requires more lengthy discussion.

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